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Yamamoto Precious Metal Co., Ltd.

Kochi No. 1 Yamanami Factory

<Main Office>
3-7 Sanadayamacho, Tennoji-ku
Osaka City, Osaka, JAPAN 543-0015
Tel: 06-6761-4739
Fax: 06-6761-4743

<Kochi No. 1 Yamanami Factory>
1090-3 Kamibun Aza Otani, Kagami-cho
Konan City, Kochi, JAPAN 781-5451
Tel: 0887-55-0120
Fax: 0887-55-0053

Founded: May 1957

<Main Business>
Sale of precious metal bullion
Refining and analysis of precious metals
Processing of precious metals
Development, manufacturing, and sale of dental materials

(Photo: Production facility at the Kochi No. 1 Yamanami Factory)

Kochi factories handle product development and manufacturing

Gold ingots
President Takahiko Yamamoto

(Left Photo: Gold ingots)

(Right Photo: President Sigenari Yamamoto)

The company was founded in Tennoji, Osaka, in 1957 as
Yamamoto Shoten and worked mainly as a trader and subdivider
of precious metal bullion. We then adapted our business in
line with the complete deregulation of gold trading and
other changes in the era. After the firm was incorporated as
Yamamoto Precious Metal Co., Ltd. in 1976, we started to
manufacture and develop dental materials. Our four main
businesses are handled by separate departments: "Precious
Metal Bullion", "Precious Metal Refining", "Precious Metal
Processing", and "Dental Materials."

In 1991, the precious metal refining business was moved from
the main factory in Osaka to Kagami-cho, Kochi, launching
operations as the Kochi No. 1 Yamanami Factory. The
manufacturing facility, analysis center, and research and
development center are located on the premises. The Kochi
No. 2 Yamakita Factory began operations in 2010, and there
are a total of 7 factory buildings on-site in Konan City,
Kochi, as of 2014.

Department of Precious Metal Bullion

From left, silver, gold and palladium ingots

Precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium
have universal value and are appealing as international
commodities. They are also important raw materials in industry
and chemistry. This department is the core of our business
because we have established a trusted position as a successful
metal bullion trader

(Photo: From left, silver, gold and palladium ingots)

Department of Precious Metal Refining

Metallic melting process
Silver electrolyzation

(Left Photo: Metallic melting process)

(Right Photo: Silver electrolyzation)

Precious metals are important assets for their owners, but they are also a limited global resource. Our precious metal refining department uses a recycling system which does not allow even a small flake of such important metals to go wasted. We're working to effectively utilize precious metals with state-of-the-art systems for refining and analysis.

Department of Precious Metals Processing

Examples of custom-made products

The department offers precious metal processing that meets the needs of customers, featuring excellent processing technology and a wide range of research and development capabilities. Each order is processed with our most advanced equipment so we are able to satisfy customer needs in regard to the design and size of bullion required. Experienced technicians as well as young and hardworking staff work together to provide an "amalgamation of experts' skills and scientific knowledge."

The company is also dedicated to researching and developing revolutionary new materials and the manufacture of raw materials used in electronic components that support our modern lifestyle, such as solar panels, various types of displays, and LED lights.

(Photo: Examples of custom-made products)

Department of Dental Materials handles our main business

Kneading method to build up ceramic paste

(Photo: Worker uses the kneading method to build up ceramic paste to form an artificial tooth.)

We have concentrated our efforts recently on the department of dental materials. Based on the expertise and knowledge we have gained from the precious metal business since the company was founded, we now manufacture and sell dental materials we have developed, such as ceramics and resin, in addition to raw materials used to make gold and silver teeth.

We have a leading 35% share of the Japanese market for metal bond porcelain, while we are in third place for hard resin used as dental high molecular material, at 15%. In addition to conventional dental materials, we are working to develop materials that can be used with dental CAD/CAM systems (see explanation below). Because we are expanding the dental material manufacturing business, the name "YAMAKIN" is growing among people in the industry, though the registered name for the company is Yamamoto Precious Metal Co., Ltd.

Zirconium dental bridge
Titanium bridge implant

(Left Photo: Zirconium dental bridge designed by dental CAD/CAM and milled by a 5-axis dental milling machine. A bridge is a dental prosthesis used to replace missing teeth by using teeth adjacent to the missing ones as a foundation to anchor the prosthesis.)

(Right Photo: Titanium bridge implant designed by dental CAD/CAM and milled by a 5-axis dental milling machine.)

Enriching local medical communities in Kochi

Kochi No. 2 Yamakita Factory

The company has a total of 268 employees as of fiscal year 2013. Besides the head office in Osaka, we have branch offices in Tokyo, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sendai, and other locations. Over 60% of the employees work in our two factories in Kochi. We aim to establish strong connections to the local area. The No. 1 Factory in Kagami-cho occupies a large part of the municipality. With its many cherry trees blossoming in spring, the factory offers a beautiful working environment with a splendid view. The No. 2 Factory is located in the Yamakita area, which is well known for its mandarin orange orchards. The factory features a state-of-the art dental CAD/CAM system. The company is engaged in a joint research and development project regarding dental CAD/CAM materials with Kochi Medical School and dental clinics located adjacent to the factory.

(Photo: External view of the Kochi No. 2 Yamakita Factory)

Asking President Takahiko Yamamoto

Aerial photo of Kochi No. 1 Yamanami Factory

Comments by President Takahiko Yamamoto (Question and Answer

<History since the company's foundation>
Right after the company was founded, more than 50% of our
revenue came from work as a subdivider of gold bullion. But
with the deregulation of gold imports in 1973 and exports in
1978, business declined, and we sought to develop a new
source of revenue by developing precious metal alloys for
dental use that offered more added value. The business was
much smaller at that time compared to today, but all of our
employees worked hard as a team with the slogan, "Get the
No. 1 share in sales of dental precious metal alloys." The
company then learned about Kochi Prefecture's business
incentive system as well as a support system for human
resources and technical guidance. We took advantage of the
programs and were able to fulfill the company slogan. We are
now Japan's leading manufacturer of dental materials, in
addition to processing industrial precious metals. We
continue expanding our business domains, and have also begun
exporting dental materials. We have continuously made
changes to further develop the business. But one thing we
have never changed is our goal of providing customers with
the skills and information needed to give added value to our
products, and not just selling just for the sake of making
sales. We believe this policy has contributed to building
trusting relationships with customers.

<Feeling for Kochi>
We are so grateful for the strong support we've received
from the local areas where we are located: Konan City and
Kochi Prefecture. Since establishing the factory in Kochi in
1991, we have grown rapidly with ever-increasing business.
We are aiming to become a global company from Kochi.

<Future dreams>
We want to work harder to strengthen the development of
dental and industrial materials. We also want to proactively
develop our overseas business, eventually becoming a
"Comprehensive Materials Manufacturer with Research and
Development Capabilities."

(Photo: Aerial photo from the south side of the Kochi No. 1 Yamanami Factory. The complex of six factory buildings is shown in the center of the picture. Manufacturing is done in the center building on the north side, while the Melting Factory is located on the east side across the road. Shown clockwise: The No. 2 Research and Development Center, Refinement Factory, Analysis Center, and Research and Development Center.)

About dental CAD/CAM materials

An employee operates a milling machine

(Photo: An employee operates a milling machine)

The dental-related industry is in a transitional period. The
following are some comments, in his own words, submitted by
Yasuhisa Motohashi, general manager of the Kochi Office,
Yamamoto Precious Metal Co., Ltd.

Now is a major transitional period in the industry of dental
materials because the method for manufacturing dental
prosthetics is rapidly changing from analogue to digital.
The conventional method of making a dental prosthesis is to
make a mold of a patient's oral image then making a dental
alloy by taking a mold of their teeth. Everything was done
manually. At present, dental CAD/CAM systems are gradually
becoming popular. A dental mold can be scanned into a
computer enabling it to design teeth digitally and then have
the system make the prosthesis using a milling machine. Most
of the manual process can be replaced by digital processing.

Along with changes in the method for making dental
prosthetics, the materials used, including zirconium,
titanium, cobalt chrome alloy, and cutting resin, are also
changing. YAMAKIN is developing materials for use with
CAD/CAM systems, and continues to grow as a company with
advanced research and development capabilities.

However, the introduction of CAD/CAM systems requires a large investment. About 95% of dental laboratories employ fewer than 4 technicians, and it is difficult for such small businesses to install systems because of the high initial investment. When they have cases that need to be processed using a CAD/CAM system, the orders are outsourced to makers of the systems or to larger laboratories which already have one installed. This situation puts small laboratories in a weak competitive position vis-a-vis larger rivals. If the number of small dental labs declines, the strong ties between dental care providers and the labs may deteriorate, causing a drop in the standard of local medical care. Furthermore, the expertise and skills that dental technicians provide at each lab may not be passed on to the next generation, thus preventing Japanese dental labs from improving their skills and techniques.

Therefore, for the benefit of the local communities in Japan, it is YAMAKIN's goal not just to sell dental materials, but to promote the distribution of dental CAD/CAM system by providing information to laboratories in hopes of contributing to the improvement and passing on of dental laboratory skills and techniques to the next generation.

Milling machine in operation

(Photo: Milling machine in operation)

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